For our 30th anniversary issue, the IAQ asked 15 leading figures in Inuit art to nominate an early-career artist to watch. In turn, those artists selected a senior talent who has inspired them. The result is “30 Artists to Know”, an expansive portfolio exploring the intergenerational, familial and community-based bonds that are made visible through art.
I first met Vinnie Karetak, one of the stars of Qanurli?, a popular Inuktut comedy show, a few years ago. I haven’t stopped laughing since. Vinnie is one of the independent owners of the production company, Qanukiaq, as well as a writer and actor on one of the North’s most popular shows, now entering its seventh season on APTN. Everywhere he goes, from Alaska to Greenland, children point him out.
In the years since, we have served together on the Qaggiavuut! Board of Directors where I learned what a calm and insightful leader he is. I have been able to witness his tireless commitment to Inuit language and culture and his championship of Inuit performing artists firsthand. He has an amazing ability to bring out the best in those he works with.
This spring, Vinnie took on a new challenge: codirecting, writing and acting in a new theatre work Kiviuq Returns. He led an all-Inuit cast in the one-hour performance based on Inuit legend that toured Nunavut communities and southern Canada this year. In his spare time, Vinnie is a dedicated dad of two boys, a popular emcee at Nunavut events and an actor in films, including The Grizzlies (2017) and Two Lovers and a Bear (2016). – Ellen Hamilton
I’ve always been interested in being on the stage, ever since my school days; especially when I started seeing Inuit on television, like Super Shamou (Peter Tapatai). He was the Inuk superhero; the show only had three episodes out of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) in the late 1980s. Super Shamou allowed people to think that whatever they see on television, we Inuit could also do the same. The people at IBC have been really great to work with, too, and have been a starting point for getting onscreen art off the ground. Peter is one of our heroes at Qanurli?, as he is someone we can look up to and we appreciate all the work he has done. His work allows us to think it’s okay for us to do what we want to do, in a way that pleases us. We spoke to him once, and he said, “Don’t let anyone think that what you’re doing is competition for other people in the performing arts. It just means you are creating more content for Inuit in Inuktut and that should not be looked upon negatively in any way.” – Vinnie Karetak
Ellen Hamilton, CM
Hamilton is an artist and musician as well as a founding member of Qaggiavuut!, Nunavut’s performing arts advocacy organization. In recent years, Hamilton has turned her attention to film production with award winning films Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes (2014) and Two Lovers and a Bear (2016).
These profiles appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
30 Artists to Know Feature